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Words wound.

I have spent the last few hours deeply hurt by careless words in a Facebook message.  I am wondering how to forgive. I am wondering if social media are more adept at spreading hurt and hate than they are at sharing goodness.

I don’t honestly know.  I have to spend more time processing why someone uses social media to hurt me and my family, without cause.

I am an immigrant.  Spread lies or distortions about any immigrants, and you wound us all.

I am a woman of faith.  My family, across three continents, includes Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, Jews and Christians.

My greater family, the one that includes close friends, includes atheists and fundamentalist Christians.

I respect their beliefs, and honor their values, as most of them do mine.

I would not say anything to malign anyone’s faith, whatever they believe.  However, I am critical of public figures who use organized religion as a sword, to incite fear and hate among people who haven’t been out in the world, and don’t know people of other faiths.

I do not equate violence in the world with the faith of others. I have long hoped, as an immigrant in the U.S., that I could spread a message of hope to people easily frightened by rhetoric against “others.”

Others by any definition.

As a journalist, I champion freedom of speech almost as much as any other freedom. I am grateful for the freedom to speak and write, in any medium, about anything, in a privileged nation.

But in the U.S., where the Supreme Court upholds the rights of so-called people of faith to use obscenities at the gravesides of Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans — while families are in mourning and distress — I have struggled to understand our differences.

My definition of hate speech, carefully legislated in my home country of Canada, isn’t recognized here.

And the easy way some Americans toss hurtful words about others’ faith is as disturbing to me here, as it was when I lived in non-democratic countries.

 

 

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